Microsoft, We Deserve Better

In recent weeks, I’ve seen calls from several sources suggesting that Microsoft stop, take a breath, and seriously review their update process.

I agree. This madness must end. Or at least slow down.

Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!

Summary

  • Most people should still take updates, backing up first.
  • Taking updates feels akin to Russian Roulette.
  • Microsoft can do better, and I offer specific actions they can and should take.

This isn’t about hate

I’ve always heard from the Microsoft-hate crowd; they’re not new. They believe Microsoft can do absolutely nothing right. Even the most minor glitch is seen as some kind of exposé of Microsoft’s evil intent.

That’s not me. It never has been. I’m no Microsoft hater.

Windows — yes, even Windows 10 — is an awesome operating system. It’s an amazing feat of engineering. In the last decades, Windows’ ubiquity and usability paved the way for a myriad of things we now take for granted. Had Windows not existed, some other solution would likely have come to be, but the fact remains Windows happened, and it’s Windows that brought technology to where we are today.

ShameI still believe most people should take all updates, albeit with extra attention to backing up first. Windows Update usually works. By “usually”, I mean that for millions upon millions of machines, Windows Update works without major issues. These are the machines used by people we don’t hear from because they’re busy getting stuff done. Their updates are, for the most part, a non-issue.

But then there are the unlucky few.

Windows Update as Russian Roulette

Let’s assume that one hundredth of one percent (0.01%) of Windows 10 installations have a significant problem. That seems like a tiny number, right? (I don’t know what the real number is; Microsoft isn’t saying. If anything, I suspect my assumption is low.)

Let’s also assume there are two billion desktop computers currently in use in the world1.  Let’s assume half of them run Windows, and half of those run Windows 102, meaning about 500,000,000 machines. If our assumption of 0.01% is even close to correct, that means 50,000 computers may experience a problem due to Windows Update. That’s still way too many.

Particularly since updates are forced, it’s a little like playing Russian Roulette. There’s no real predicting whether or not the barrel is loaded when you’re forced to pull the Windows Update trigger — or more correctly, when the gun is pointed at your machine and the trigger is pulled on your behalf.

Even if your chances of experiencing a problem are one in ten thousand (aka 0.01%), it’s certainly enough to make people nervous.

Microsoft, you can do better.

Microsoft, you must do better.

In my opinion, this is what “better” looks like:

Return control to the user — all control, to all users. Allow all editions of Windows to defer any and all updates indefinitely. Honestly, it’s the height of hubris for an operating system to force updates to begin with. There are hundreds of reasons why an individual machine might not or should not take updates for an extended period of time. Stability matters, and right now, given the risk that updates appear to present, stability matters more than security (the most quoted reason for automatic, unstoppable updates).

Let all computer users choose if, when, and which updates should be installed. Period. Sure, make the default action “take everything automatically”, but give everyone an out. You don’t know their reasons, you can’t know their reasons, and there are valid reasons. Encourage, educate, and build a track record of trust. But never force.

Stop feature updates completely. Focus on stability and security, at least until you improve your track record. Many — myself included — feel too many things are being updated too quickly. All the moving parts being updated contribute to the recent rash of Windows Update horror stories. Windows is an incredibly complex beast, and one of the costs of that complexity is speed: you cannot and should not keep changing it as frequently and dramatically as you seem to want to.

Focus on quality. Everyone says they focus on quality, but the proof is in the pudding, as they say. The last major Windows updates have had more quality issues than is reasonable or tolerable. Deleting people’s data is simply unacceptable. That type of behavior was what we called a “showstopper” back in the day — yet it shipped anyway. Someone missed something incredibly important.

Apologize and mean it. Admit your mistakes. Promise to do better, and then do better. Microsoft, you need to re-earn our trust. As I said above, what matters most is the result, but it’s time to be open and honest and take responsibility for the mistakes along the way.

Microsoft, you can do better. From individuals to families, organizations, and corporations, we need you to do better.

We shouldn’t be forced to play games.

Especially not Russian Roulette.

Podcast audio

Play

Video Narration

Footnotes & references

1: Probably more by now, as two billion was projected to happen in 2015 according to WorldOMeters (using data sourced from Gartner).

2: Specific numbers are surprisingly difficult to come by, but Wikipedia seems like a reasonable enough source for our purposes.

138 comments on “Microsoft, We Deserve Better”

  1. Fantastic article Leo! …..and I completely agree with every word you wrote. Microsoft, on many levels, needs to do better for those who use their products. My trust in Microsoft and Windows was lost some time ago and I’ve been quite happy running an iMac, with the new Mojave operating system. Apple seems to think things through better than Microsoft and certainly doesn’t force updates, changes, policies, etc. down one’s throat. I left Microsoft after the many frustrations associated with that company and am glad not to be one of those unfortunate individuals/businesses that lost their data recently. I also have never gotten the CU to successfully install, but it was continually being pushed at me. I never wanted it, but it wasn’t my choice because I was, at the time, using the Windows operating system. Again, I’m using the iMac computer and happy to no longer have to endure anything related to Microsoft.

    • I’ve used an iMac for 5 or 6 years now and several iPhones and the only complain is their tech support, and it’s a BIG complaint. Apple Care comes across (initially) as this great resource for troubleshooting and fixing a problem, and they are when your problem is standard. However, my experience has been, after you go deep down the rabbit hole, every solution to the big problems is to wipe the hard drive, reinstall the default OS and then, one-by-one, reintroducing your software back to the device ONE DAY AT A TIME. This was their solution to three separate problems. On one, I felt it was an HD issue but they would NOT send me a new HD before going though this horribly tedious process (mind you, on a business machine that needs ALL of it’s software) so we took the machine to a local iMac repair shop (not an Apple store) and within 15 minutes they had it apart, tested and confirmed the HD was bad, all without doing Apple Care’s ridiculous solution of wipe/default/reinstall one-by-one. While they produce a great product, their support is easily the worst I’ve faced when there was a real problem (meaning, when the script-readers on their first-tier and second-tier support calls run out of script).

  2. Good article, Leo. But what is the average user supposed to do? I mean those of us who have no idea what updates to allow and which to reject. I’ve always followed your recommendation to allow all the ‘important’ updates to be installed. And i have always taken the time to read the info describing the ‘important’ update first. But after reading the descriptions I’m still just as baffled and without a shred of understanding as to whether I need the update or not. Or whether the ‘important’ update may harm my computer or not. Most of us are not experts. So what are we to do? It sounds like in this article you are telling us to be very careful about our update download decisions, but the average user has no idea what’s safe, what isn’t, what’s necessary and what isn’t, hence ALL our update decisions are a roll of the dice in this current, increasingly dismal Microsoft update world. What do you suggest we do? We, the average user.

    • An average user should not use Windows. It should only be used by people that have a technical support department available. It is only meant for large corporations, thats why you cant understand what Microsoft says. They are not talking to normal people they are talking to techies in companies. Non-techies should look to a Chromebook first (especially now that they can run Android apps) and macOS second.

      As for Leo’s main point, there have been many complaints about bug fixes causing problems with Windows 10. Some very high profile complaints. The result was that large companies can delay service packs. Anyone else is still a beta tester.

      Microsoft should do better, Leo is correct. But they clearly can not.

      • Windows comes installed on 90% of people’s computers. To say it is not for the average user is extreme. There are many programs the average user needs which only come on Windows. Linux might work for many, but the learning curve would be too great for most. You are correct in a way. Microsoft definitely prioritizes corporate users and that is a problem for the average user.

        • Many, if not most, non techies should use a Chromebook. Your mother should use a Chromebook. They are like cars where you never have to fill the gas tank or pump air into the tires. They self-update without bothering the end user with the details. This is the way most people should live. Us nerds are different.

          Yes, of course, there are some apps that only run on Windows, but that is the last gasp for a dying operating system. Windows is welfare for computer nerds many of whom will be out of work when newer, more sophisticated operating systems (ChromeOS and iOS) rule the world.

        • I don’t completely agree with everything Michael said, but I do agree that a lot of people don’t need a computer or even Windows. If all you want to do is email and browse the web, do you really need a computer? No, a tablet (or a Chromebook) will probably do.

          The rest of us need a computer. So we need a reliable operating system. The one thing that has always baffled me is the sheer size of Windows. I get that it has to run on a myriad of configurations with a myriad of different peripherals (am I showing my age), but it still seems like a monsterous program. Getting down to basics, Windows is an operating system. It’s job is to control the interactions between the various parts of the comptuer. DOS was an operating system and if I remember correctly, I had one or two 5.25″ floppies. Then I got Windows 3.1 and I think that was two or three 3.5″ floppies (or was it six disks?). So the operating system was pretty compact, not like today. And yet, Windows 10 doesn’t really do much more than Windows 3.1 did. Windows 10 is just prettier.

          Yes, I love that I can drag a window to the side or corner of the monitor and have the window snap into that position (in Windows 3.1 we had to move and size the window ourselves to look at more than one window at a time). But I’m not sure that I really use that many more features than I did with Windows 3.1. The bigger it is, the more work is involved to keep it all happy and humming along. Maybe Windows is just too big? Time to start from scratch?

          • … or switch to a version of Linux? The amount of stuff that can be done on Linux OS’s is more than comparable to Windows. LinuxLite is a classic example. While I haven’t specifically checked its actual size it is orders of magnitude smaller than Win10. Yet, for all intents and purposes it does just about anything you can do on Windows, and a fair amount of things that you cannot do on Windows.

            Its biggest downside is that people don’t know it and are terrified that they’ll lose everything. Hello? I’ve essentially had that happen to me on Windows a number of times. Fortunately “most” of the stuff that I lost wasn’t of any great import.

        • Possibly over 3 years ago I worried about Windows with my capped mobile data. You mentioned that Linux, possibly Mint, could be the solution. I only started using a computer in 2003 and am now 83 but nevertheless I stumbled onto PCLinuxOS. Sure it’s been a learning curve but now with KDE Plasma 5 it works so well that it’s almost boring. Early on their forum got me through many hoops many times. Lately though I use it the odd time to help find an app in the repository. I’ve had replies come back in minutes. I still have Windows 7 on another drive, never on line, mainly for my wife’s Photoshop. Also PCLinuxOS is on my Latitude Laptop. It’s as if I had been cured of chronic headaches.

      • Having both Windows and a Chromebook, I could not agree more. Keeping Windows updated and successfully functioning requires a lot of money and time. Those who have the money hire help. Those who don’t but like to read buy books. My Windows library is extensive, and the time I spent learning and keeping my system functional is pretty outrageous for a general consumer product. Not to mention that you really only rent the operating system which must be repurchased every few years as well as outright rent Office if you want that. There are other Office programs out there but if you have used the MS brand in the past you may want to stick with it. Buy the latest and “greatest” MS operating system and your old Office CD no longer works it seems. After over $1,000 for my desktop, hundreds of dollars on my books and hundreds of hours out of my life getting XP functional, I said no thank you to the next 3 operating systems peddled by Microsoft and bought myself a Chromebook. This is what a computer should be.

        • I have been using computers for over 25 years and I honestly have not spent a great deal of money using Microsoft products. Just because Microsoft thinks it’s time to upgrade to a new Windows version or Office version, I don’t go for it. I keep using what I’ve got as long as I can. And when it comes time to upgrade, I don’t try using the new Windows version on my old equipment. I find equipment designed specifically for that Windows version works the best. I use automatic updates, so I stay as up to date as possible. It’s pretty low maintenance and not that expensive. I don’t buy $1000+ machines. $500 (CAD) computers seem to work just fine.

          • Of course “a great deal of money” may not mean the same thing to every person; some might think that the average middle-class family might be better off saving their money instead of renting computer products and making the 1% richer. There are landfills on the planet teeming with discarded hardware. To invest in a new computer for every Windows upgrade would be an outrageous proposition to many people, myself included. Again we are talking about a consumer product.

          • I’m a 100% Windows user. Mainly because I have to stay up to date on Windows for my work as Ask Leo! I did an experiment using Linux Mint on the computer I use for my university teaching. It worked perfectly well for everything I needed and the only reason I switched back to Windows on that machine was because I have a subscription to OneDrive. For most people, this can be substituted by Dropbox which runs on Linux. And Linux will run on older machines, so you can also save money on hardware. And you can try it out by running it directly from a DVD or USB flash drive to see if it works for you.
            Should I convert to Linux?

            Since that article was written, the hardware compatibility is even somewhat improved. Thy it, you just might like it.

          • I should have added that some people would consider these “upgrades” to be backward “downgrades” in terms of functionality — or at best no worse and no better — despite what whole-cloth marketing hype would have people believe. I’ve certainly read enough comments to that effect about Vista, 7, and 10. If companies wanted to could they not simply add the “upgrades” to the existing OS instead of new cosmetic changes requiring new hardware and expense? Yes, I think they could but they have the minds of consumers confused enough that they can get away with increasing overreach.

      • “An average user should not use Windows.”
        That seems to be a rather silly comment, it appears to ignore the large segment of Windows users who use their computers as a tool, e.g. for doing small business accounts.
        These people are neither extreme techies nor ‘social’ users, they just need a tool that continues to work provided they take reasonable care of it.

        • I disagree… in the last 5 years or so… vast majority of people use computers to just cruise the internet. Proof…? Most access to the internet these days is now done by… (so called) smartphones.

      • I’ve been using Windows since 3.11 in 1985. It’s just fine for a lot of things. You don’t have to be an ubergeek to use it but there seems to be a point where you stop where you are and stay put. To me that is Windows 7 or at the most 8.1.

        Things seem to go in cycles with Windows. When I was younger there was Clippy or that cute dog for an assistant, which was novel but not really needed. After 30+ years I feel the same about Cortana and for that matter nearly ANY site’s little AI chat agent box popup asking me how it can help me, simply because it’s generally of no use to me and even the knowledge base search window tends to be junk.

        However that goes, I have been using Windows apps and programs forever, some I bought/found in the 80s and continue to use, in one case I use a 15 year old version because I simply don’t require any ‘better’ and their equivalent never thrilled me. There is a lot of software Windows has to apply the KISS principle to. I use Linux Mint some but there is still no substitute for the Windows software versions I am used to that I really dig, and WINE (Windows Emulator) has never really worked for me (I have no idea why). My nephews caught on almost instantaneously and I still learn it but the best part remains that I got the old computer and a hard drive for that one dirt cheap.

        With 7 I can still easily roll back most updates (actually I can clear out the entire update cache wholesale, but that’s beside the point) but 10 users are told to just reinstall clean. What kind of solution is that?

        Even the volunteer support site they host is becoming the Wild West, if you read the threads for their moderators and spam cleanup. To be fair, yes they are under attack like that and it doesn’t translate into I’m through with X, I’ll use Y, it just frustrates users to no end, and yet the company’s ‘agents’ pulled out of a lot of direct assistance last summer and opted to allow an outsider come in and those people answer questions for their own monetary gain…which led to more gaming/tag teams and even former Microsoft agents ‘going rogue’.

        To summarize on my part, I think that the current leadership at Microsoft has dropped the ball, and whatever one was dissatisfied with before is trivial of late. it would be no wonder why people still ask where ‘official support’ is at.

      • The statement that average users shouldn’t use Windows may not be far off. How many times has an error message popped up on your screen and the wording is…”see your system administrator.” If I am a home user, there is no “system administrator” to set me straight. Luckily I grew up in IT so I handle my problems, but I also handle the problems of a dozen relatives that don’t have “system administrators.” So glad there are good remote desktop applications that allow me to fix their problems as long as they still can connect to the internet.

        • CraigM.
          AMEN! I would be lost without my nephew helping me out with blow-ups I’ve had over the years. Unfortunately, he is not able to help me out any longer and I am forced to use an ‘OfficeMax’ store virtual desktop help which for $15.00/mo is somewhat of a hardship for retirees like me. And out of the three times I’ve used their services, only ONE helped. They are incompetent, to say the least, and I cannot get out of the “year-long” contract without paying a fee. It’s such a rip off so people, beware! But not being techy, someone has to help out but next year, I”m back to taking my PC into a reputable place to have my PC fixed.

    • The average user should do this:

      • Back up religiously. Image backup the whole system, every day.
      • Take all updates.

      Most people have no problems. Seriously. That there are some (too many) that do is indeed a problem, and the backups protect you in case you’re one of the unlucky few.

      • Backups are no solution to a crappy OS and an arrogant OS manufacturer (backups don’t make MS do better). Besides, if the issue an appropriate OS for “most people”, the fact is that most people don’t and won’t backup, and when the time comes to reconstruct their OS their backup won’t work.

        As for the “unlucky few” or your guesstimate of 0.01%. If MS doesn’t say what the number of problem PC’s are, then it must be much, much higher (otherwise it would be in an ad comparing Windows to Mac). Remember the Ford Pinto? Ford used to say that the Pinto problem affected very few cars, but no one suggested keeping a bicycle in the trunk in case your Pinto blew up as a “solution”.

        • I’m not saying a backup is a solution. What I am saying is that a backup is the only thing we have in our control to protect ourselves. Microsoft needs to solve this.

      • Which IS good advice but most users find it incredibly drawn out backing up 100-200 gigabytes every single day and what do we have, maybe an external drive and a tiny SD card or two?

        When I was a wee lad of 30, yes, it took maybe a couple hours to reload Windows and restore what you saved to CDs. Fortunately perhaps you have web apps now and as long as you keep your account secure and make some backups (and face it, a lot of what you have is ephemeral packrat stuff for temporary use that you tend to duplicate and delete all the time). Now when you run out of licenses you have to pay to reload Windows past a number of times and that’s crippling on a budget, that one I don’t like yet I don’t like 10. And Microsoft seems to have given up on operating systems, selling subscriptions for apps and Xbox must be better for them.

      • But Leo, where the flipping heck am I going to store all these “daily” incremental backups? I most certainly don’t have the cash to invest in multiple hard drives and seemingly DVD backups are on the way out and most computers don’t even have drives for these built in anyway.

        Classic case of BIID BIID

        • You only need to save a few, not all. I save a months worth. Honestly, in the case of latest windows update problems, just a few days worth would save you as the problems become apparent VERY quickly. A single external hard drive can be plenty.

          • I’m afraid if my friends are anything to go by, not many people do back-ups once a year, let alone once a day! I do understand the necessity for them, nonetheless. An Apple user I know has Time Machine, with an external drive programmed to back up every change to the computer with even the capacity to go back to earlier states.
            Speaking of which, from my own and friends’ experience, I recommend the program Horizon Rollback. It takes snapshots manually or automatically as configured to which a system can be returned even if it doesn’t boot, as there is a pre-boot console which can easily be accessed. The snapshots can be made in seconds and are generally as good as full back-ups; the main limitation is that naturally they cannot protect against hardware failure. There is a free version for home users, but the number of snapshots is limited to 7.

  3. I have been learning from Ask Leo now for a few years and still am a novice but am getting better! I kept Windows 8.1 and used the GWX Control Panel as suggested. I kept it until uninstalling it about a year ago. I continue to get updates that are downloaded, but which I install. They are usually just security updates and things specific to Windows 8.1 . I look for updates every couple hours, so have kept up with them. I hope this is OK and not risky. I’d like to know. Thanks!!

    • If you check regularly, you probably wouldn’t be at any more risk than if you had automatic updates installed. I wouldn’t recommend that for everyone, because I don’t believe everyone would be consistent enough to check regularly.

      • The advantage of manually checking for updates frequently is that you know when the updates will happen. If there are any, they’ll happen when you check.

    • Since you mentioned it by name, keeping GWX Control Panel or at least the installation file is a good thing as it does afford you the ability to simply clear the Windows Update cache and start over. In some situations this is useful.

  4. I have 2 desktops and a laptop, all 3 are running on Windows 7 Ultimate….very pleased with this solution ! And I have no problems with Windows7.
    What I do not understand is that Microsoft was able to produce the 98SE, the XP Pro and the 7 which was super software. And now, for a reason unknow
    they are not able to avoid mishaps with what a friend of mine calls “the monster”. He didn’t receive one upgrade without having problems.
    Leo is right when he writes that Microsoft should leave control to the users, after all the computers are the propriety of each user and it is the users right to decide what’s happening with the software “including” W10.
    My friend was using software that apparently didn’t please Microsoft….and they simply wiped it out. Such things are unacceptable.
    Conclusion : for me no Windows 10 that is for sure !

    • Louis,
      I too consider Windows7 as Microsoft’s high point. But we must also consider the situation Microsoft faced in 2012. Desktop and Laptop sales were down by at least a factor of 2; Sure, they may have sold 250-300M PCs, but compared to tablets and phones at over 1,000M the situation was dire. In the exploding mobile market Microsoft had zero … yes zero, penetration. Companies than don’t change and adapt die.
      So Microsoft issued Windows 8, the touch-screen mobile OS that masqueraded as Windows. (It was actually more like “Window”.) Since it appeared everyone was abandoning PCs and moving to touch screen phones and tablets, Microsoft was sure it would be a hit. Instead, it was the “New Coke” of operating systems. Even I, who has liked every versions of Windows (yes, even WinME and Vista), I *hated* Windows 8.
      Microsoft learned the lesson.
      So now we have Windows 10. It’s a mobile operating system that has been back-ported to run well on standard PCs with keyboards and mice. And it does run well. To counter complaints of bad third party programs breaking things, they invented the Windows-equivalent of “Apps” – programs written in an entirely different and modern way. (As apposed to Windows95-stile programs.) But of course, then Microsoft has to muck up the language and call everything an “App” because they think people are too stupid to tell the difference. Labeling is not MS’s strong suit.
      Never forget that Microsoft thinks they are in a life-or-death competition with Apple and Google. They even fear Linux. And they are … and should. To survive, they must change and adapt. However, their recent changes and adaptions have not been the right ones, I hope they can learn that lesson too.

    • You forget Windows 2000. A very stable OS, few resources, friendly.
      But Microsoft forces us to change it. The same they do with Windows 7.
      If a version fulfill all my requirements don’t force me to change it.

  5. I found this article to be interesting even though I’m almost computer illiterate. This caught my attention because I don’t…and won’t…use Win 10.
    I had a desk top running Windows 7 Pro that I was very happy with. That is, until Microsoft literally BADGERED me into accepting their “free upgrade” to Windows 10.
    A few days later, my computer crashed all I could do was stare at the screen as it asked for the disk. ARRRRGH!
    Off to my computer guy….reinstalled Windows 7 Pro….happy ever since.
    Yes, I probably only need a Chrome Book. I’m not sure. But, when Microsoft stops supporting 7 Pro, I am sure I will not be going back to 10! 11? Maybe. But not Windows 10!

      • I do think there will be Windows 11 or higher, so Microsoft can sell an OS, no matter what I hear on the Internet. I am using Windows 10 with no problems. If Windows 11 cost money, I am not getting it.

        • Nope, 10 is just part of the name Windows now, like Corvette is the name of a sports car that happens to be built by Chevy, or Coke and Kleenex are nearly generic for cola and facial tissues. It’s a branding thing.

        • If it ever goes that way I’ll extend my arm with a fist and then extend the middle finger.

          I have a (legal) copy of Office 2007 and 2010. They serve my purposes fine. I use it basically for spreadsheets and word documents. Don’t need super dooper fancy stuff.

          If everything turns to custard with future versions I’ll move permanently to Linux. Probably Linux Lite… a great distro from good ol’ New Zealand. Yay.

      • MS has been very fickle with its product names. Product names change on a regular basis, with some cosmetic changes thrown in. MS has also had a history of panicking and redecorating a product that’s not popular. The reason there was a Windows 7 is because Vista was so crappy. The reason there was Windows 10 was because 8/8.1 was so crappy. So, yes, there will be a Windows 11 (or some other silly name) because Microsoft has to put more lipstick on the pig to redeem its reputation.

      • I think the reason is because Apple is calling all of their new OS upgrades OS X (ie. OS 10) and Microsoft has a good track record of following in the footsteps of Apple 🙂 Don’t ask me why Apple did it, though. That’s a mystery.

        • Rumour has it that it was because if you say it quickish it sounds like oh sex. And just for the record, that rumour started right here folks and I have copylefted it.

  6. I absolutely agree about needing to take back control of when and if to update. Last year, I missed an important deadline at work because my computer took an update, with no option to defer or refuse it, and it took 5 HOURS to run! Later, I spent some time online to Microsoft Help, and learned how to disable automatic updates. However, it does seem that this can be over-ridden if Windows is determined to update. Having said that, though, as a not-especially-techie user, I have never had any significant issues with Windows, so I really can’t agree with Michael. Windows got the world and his dog using computersat home as well as in the workplace, and that is surely a good thing.

    • One thing you can do to stop updates is… go offline. Updates then won’t happen until after you have completed your work. Unless, of course, you need to access data online elsewhere. But, I was under the impression that businesses could defer downloads for exactly this purpose. Certainly was the case 6 years ago when I was still in the workforce. Mind you, we were using enterprise version.

  7. Microsoft seems to have lost its way when it comes to the desktop user. This has been obvious for quite some time to most observers and they have made some dreadful missteps over the last few years. I believe much of this comes from their seeming obsession with SAAS. A good example of this would be their sudden abandonment of Windowsphone – a truly excellent product that could have been a world beater, but always seemed to be held back by an internal power struggle in Microsoft itself. Even so, they came up with something great, bought Nokia and managed to ruin Windowsphone and a great phone manufacturer in the process despite having one of the best voice assistants out there in the shape of Cortana who did much better than Siri or Google Assistant.
    I believe the heart of the issue is that the top brass at Microsoft have lost their sense of direction – Microsoft doesn’t know what it is any more and that’s been apparent for a while. It’s a potential tragedy in the making but I don’t think it’s likely to change any time soon.

  8. I agree Windows is a huugggeeee beast. I despair at the updating process which takes precious time when I need to be getting on with things with the limited time I have at home after work. I think MS are missing a trick. What we need now is an alternative stripped-down, lite version of Windows 10 for the genuine power user, losing the bloat, built-in programs and lots of legacy code. It would make for a fast, secure, efficient computing experience Need to have support available for an older program? Have Make as a standard-build, certified bolt-on App, available either from the Microsoft Store or the program maker’s site. Shed boot-time to avoid unnecessary sleep or hibernating. They produce all manner of OS builds, so why not a genuine LITE one? I know there are those who produce “lite” versions, but I am wary of trying to mess about with a working installation, despite my groans! 🙂

      • It works to a point, but I never got WINE to work and found out maybe it never really did.

        You also have to use what is compatible with what you have at work in many cases and Linux, while really close to a Windows-like user experience, is still a learning process and not a total solution. It’s an alternative.

      • Ah, Linux Mint. Linux will not be ready for prime time until it includes a UAC Yes No dialog box for those of us who refuse to type in a password every other time we need to do something.

        I gather there are ways to circumvent this, but nearly all I’ve seen are accompanied by a wagging finger reply about security. And they require excursions into a black screen dos-type terminal….like so many things in Linux. And don’t get me started on Wine.

        Windows updates are overrated. As long as we back up, we can maintain Windows 7 past its end-of-life. C drive imaging and cloning (after verifying a malware-free machine) will cover us if we’re hit by ransomware or malware of any kind. The only wild card is third party software support after end-of-life.

        This is coming from a user who recently upgraded a spare Dell 755 from W7 to W10 for free, just to play with the OS.

        I have had no issues with W10; nevertheless, I’ve installed a program called ShutUp10 that shuts off any or all W10 intrusions and monitoring. And, the W10 C drive has been imaged on an external hard drive.

        I don’t worry about updates for W7 or W10. The best remedies are those that do not require us to persuade anyone to do anything, especially Microsoft. If we follow the advice of Leo and others and back up every which way but loose, we won’t lose much.

        • What was that about Linux not having UAC? Of course it doesn’t, because UAC is a Microsoft Corporation feature name. News flash: Linux, as a derivative of Unix, has had comprehensive user permission controls long before Windows was even imagined by Mr. Bill. And what was that about Linux not being ready for prime time? Another news flash: Did you know that the Android OS and Chrome OS are based on the Linux kernel and Mac OS is based on Unix? Did you know that most web and mail servers run on Linux? Did you know that NASA, the DoD, Amazon, the NYSE, and many more big companies and governments use Linux servers? What did you think, they would run Windows 10 and let it update and reboot in the middle of a critical operation? (Not saying that off-the-shelf Linux is used for any life-critical systems).

          • I think they’re refering to the ability in UAC to just click YES instead of having to type a password every time (as you need to on a Mac or Linux).

            Mac is based on BSD, which is actually separate from Linux. And neither Linux nor BSD are “based on” Unix, in any way other than conceptually. They were written from scratch for copyright reasons, among others.

          • Linux Mint or other good Linux distros ; you can choose what updates or even if you want them. Linux Mint ( and other distros ) now come with TimeShift ; you can take snapshots of system , choose when and how many to keep and be able to roll back from a bad update . I continue to be amazed at the quality of native software on Linux offered as free. There are still a few business applications I cannot run on Linux — if it was left up to me ; would use Linux as primary OS ( which is what I do at home — no Windows on it at all ) and use a VM to run Windows for the few programs I would need to run for work. As it is now – I have Linux on my work machine in a VM

            Excellent article — thanks

  9. Just disable automatic updates through Group Policy. And use the app called “wumt” to update items only you need.

    And, thanks for the article. MS surely need to get their act together without being huge money mongers.

      • Yep. Not on home edition. But the home edition is nothing but a toy, right. Only good for 9-5 jobers to come home and have some goofy keyboard fun.

        • And yet it is, by far, the most common edition of Windows in the home. It come pre-installed on SO MANY machines and people don’t know to choose Pro or better, or elect not to.

          • Yeah, thus when I buy a new laptop, I need to go through wiping out Windows and installing a Linux distro, and install windows as a sidekick.

        • I use both Pro and Home and there is no functional difference unless you’re part of a workgroup or need to join a domain, which most people aren’t and don’t. You can reproduce most of the GPO settings in the registry on Windows Home if you really need to but most people don’t need to.

          • Well, without Group Policy management, you are as good as a slave to the bloated OS called Windows. Registry editing is risky. Simple error, you are reinstalling from square one, and all the software you use on Windows. System restore is even not working as they brag. Side bar and task bar starts to act weird after awhile. Crackers can go in and out as they like. etc etc. So much bugs, so fragile. Windows 10 is like a damsel in distress.

          • If you take daily system image backups as Leo has been imploring people to do since the beginning of Ask Leo!, you wouldn’t be back to square one. You only have to move back one square to the previous good state Windows was in.

  10. P.S. Let’s face it. MS is all about hijacking others technologies and making them “better”. Windows in not a beast, it’s just a wounded old bloated bear that requires 10 years to wake up from hibernation. It’s not complexity that bogs down Windows, it’s the bugs that plagues this OS due to stealing others technologies and not even doing THAT right.

    • Ah, gee, mister! Even Eddie Haskell wasn’t that bad…

      I’ve used computers since the late 70s when microcomputers were brand new and we had humble TRS-80s in the library ‘computer lab’. I hear how X hijacks stuff from Y for years, and now it’s about smartphones. I roll my tired old eyes and sigh as nothing is new.

      Remember tailfins? No? How about how every new car looks like the others anymore? Of COURSE you are going to want to offer as much functionality as possible. Not doing so is suicidal, and trying too hard led to things like dbase IV back then, a disaster in it’s own right.

      If you ever find a ‘perfect’ OS or browser, let me know. It’s vaporware otherwise.

  11. Windows 10 – the operating system for people who hate computers. I really think that; Microsoft seem to be determined to kill off any joy for their users, for those who like to play with and enjoy computing. And it may very well kill off the computer for domestic users, so Microsoft could be signing their own death warrant. The young don’t both with computers any more, so Microsoft needs to think about their future carefully.

  12. I took up the MS offer to upgrade from Windows 7 Home Premium to Windows 10 but had to go back to 7 immediately because it installed their own PS/2 touch-pad driver. I cant use a touch pad because I suffer from Essential Tremor and my shaky thumbs keep triggering it causing the loss of whatever screen I am working on.
    As I always have to use a mouse I have to hibernate my laptop because a shutdown and restart results in the touch pad being reinstalled and the process of uninstalling it and reverting to the use of a mouse in convoluted and time consuming. Similarly I am unable to install updates because they require a reboot resulting in the touch pad PS/2 driver being reinstalled. I have tried various suggested solutions to this problem but none have worked so I am stuck with using an outdated operating system./

  13. I agree with this article. I don’t really agree with the Windows 10 bashers in this threat. For MS to stop at Windows 7 would be like GMC or Chrysler deciding that they have now made the perfect vehicle and they can stop doing R&D. I haven’t really had earth shattering problems with any of the versions of Windows (and I’ve used most of them), but I did switch to an iPhone and a MacBook Pro for a while. And I’ve used Linux. But when it boils down to it, Windows is the only OS that really gives me the resources I need and I keep coming back to it. It should be possible to make Windows modular. They could give you Windows S for free and you could pay minor upgrade fees to go from there. Design your own Windows. Great idea? Well, they’ve tried that and nobody likes Windows S, though it’s the basic equivalent to the Chrome OS. MS can’t win for losing.

  14. Windows is not suited for people who want control over their computer. This has always been the case and it probably will not change anytime soon. If you run Windows then MS controls your computer and you can at best borrow control from them to the extend that MS deems to be good for MS.

    Personally I just take control over my laptop from MS by upgrading to NixOS almost as soon as I get my laptop. With NixOS I can update when it suits me and I never have to worry about what MS or anyone else besides me wants. I could even easily downgrade if I wanted to. It is completely my call to make.

  15. Leo, how is it that you don’t know the whole history of how Microsoft cheated at every turn to eliminate healthy competition and keep us from being victims of their crap? If you don’t hate Microsoft it’s that your eyes are wide shut.

    Look up judge penfil and start reading from there.

    Sure Microsoft Windows can work ok (if you know enough to not get in trouble), but there’s now really nothing to compare it to because of their long history of cheating and lying.

    I”m betting that they pay linux developers to make sure that their products never have mass appeal by making stupid things stay.

    good example? Google Earth for linux. When you search for a location it zooms out to Mars and shows the from Mars view from the equator. Then you have to zoom way in and find your marked place.

    Windows version does just what you’d want.

    Is this because Windows is better? No, the only plausible explanation I can see is that there is money changing hands.

    Why don’t you know that bill gates father is a bmf (bad **********) in the intelligence community. He saw that his son was worthless tripe and installed him at the head of this fictitious company which has really always been a military industrial complex fiction.

    Now the idiot is spreading vaccines and lies about vaccines and hurting everybody everywhere but focusing on the weakest people. All a big plot to steal africa from the africans.

    Leo, you’re being willfully ignorant. I like you Leo, open your eyes.

    • Unlike many I’ve been inside the beast. I know how they think and operate. Remember, I worked there for 18 years (I left 16 years ago). The conspiracy theory you espouse is simply not true. Microsoft has their problems, obviously, but not in the way you would have it.

    • When I read this I switched to the second desktop on my PCLinuxOS and brought up Google Earth:
      Google Earth Pro 7.3.0.3832 (64-bit) Build Date 8/18/2017 Build Time 4:51:36 pm Renderer OpenGL Operating System Linux (4.18.7.0)
      Then I searched a few locations and and they came up with an eye alt. of app 100m.
      Operating System: PCLinuxOS 2018 Qt Version: 5.11.2 KDE Frameworks Version: 5.51.0 Kernel Version: 4.18.7-pclos1OS Type: 64-bit
      Processors: 4 × Intel® Core™ i5-2500K CPU @ 3.30GHz Memory: 7.8 GiB of RAM
      You may want a better Linux Distro. See my earlier post.

  16. My 11-year-old grandson/ward has an eight-year-old laptop which does everything he needs, and has none of the Microsoft problems. The performance is just fine, thanks to replacing the hard drive with a 60GB SSD. It runs the Ubuntu Mate operating system.

    (His school is very computer oriented. Assignments arrive by email, some assignments are completed using presentation software, others are shared using Google Docs… I suspect a kid without Internet access basically can’t go to that school.)

  17. I have been running with windows 10 Home for about 3 years now and never had a problem (that I know of) so far but Leo is right. I would appreciate the option to wait things out, read the reviews and update when I feel the update is ready.
    I have gone as far as taking my computer offline and just playing with older versions of Photoshop to entertain myself. During this time I have gone to our local library and read the reviews online.
    I don’t want to feel this frightened of Microsoft Updates but until they follow some common sense rules as Leo has offered I will always take the difficult way out. No lost info so far but what an awful way to exist.
    Hope Microsoft subscribes to Ask Leo!

  18. Leo – Hoorah!!! I completely agree with your comments especially about the forced updates.
    I came home from a holiday with LOADS of work to be done starting the next morning, but meanwhile checked on my emails. The first email I actually read was your warning about the imminent W10 update. I immediately phoned my IT techie who said “should be ok but back up any important files first just in case”. Right I said I’ll do it first thing in the morning – TOO LATE.
    The update went through 9pm that night. The result does not appear to have been too bad except that I now have a new front screen which I have to open with a new password (which I never did before), and a new screen saver (where has mine gone to?), it is SO SLOW it is painful, and quite honestly if there was another operating system as good as Windows I would change.

  19. Have spent 4 hours this week, before finally reinstall a PC from a backup, could not get the network to work. Now I have discovered, that the update turned off smb1. Why no warning in the notifications, we have just made Windows better( removed a useful search feature and added a useless, for me, time bar). P.S. smb1 has been disabled, due to a security vulnerability. When I finally find the solution it’s not from Microsoft, but from the community. And don’t get me started on the constant pushing of Cortana and Bing. I have chosen Google get over it. The only thing I ever ‘Bing’ is how to change the default back to Google. Honestly this just makes want to use Linux, only one killer program is stopping me! And as a home user, I have upgraded to pro just to regain some control of these updates.

  20. Well…aside from the conspiracy nut above, very good comments – here’s mine. I’ve been running Windows 10 since it became available, and I like it. It’s faster, smoother and more powerful than Windows 7, and I know. I’ve been running Windows since it was Windows 1.0. So…My Revo Uninstaller screen shows more than 150 applications installed and some of them have been carried over since Windows 2000. I have an I7 chip, 16Gb of ram, an SSD for the OS, and run CorelDRAW, Photoshop and various video programs. I’m not an EXPERT, but I have a pretty good idea what’s going on after 30 years working on “IBM” and Apple computers. No tablet or Chromebook could deal with what I need. And Windows 10 does. I’m running Word 2007, by the way. And I’ve had occasional trouble with updates to Windows not installing. Occasional. And I just spent an hour yesterday with a friend who uses strictly Macs- BIG Macs-a photographer, with the latest OS, and he told me he’s been having trouble lately with casual mouse gestures crashing the whole system and a causing reboots. Windows 10 works for me 🙂

  21. I think MS has totally forgotten those of us that are forced to use a dial-up internet connection. It is slow. But, to try to keep up to date with a dial-up you will have to spend hours and hours a month. They used to send out more updates that were smaller and more manageable with a dial-up, but now it is well over 250MG. I for one have just stopped updating anything that comes across except for Essential Security. When my wonderful Dell Windows 7 goes belly up, I am seriously thinking about a Mac. Thanks for a great article and I look forward to your newsletters. Doris Tonseth

  22. AMEN! Ive had several problems due to Windows Update, usually solved by changes in other programs or Windows settings. But all took time and effort to resolve. I’m an EE but the average user may need pro help and that’s not free.

    Windows Pro lets me defer feature updates but Home users are out of luck. Actually, Microsoft keeps changing the interface you use to do that, making it harder to avoid so-called improvements in Windows. A wise IT pro friend has a favorite saying: “We can’t stand any more improvements.”

  23. I fix most of my friends computers for a hobby. Not an expert but have a geek friend that will help me out if I get stuck.
    One of the biggest problems with Windows 10 is they assume everybody has a fast internet connection.
    Us folks in the boonies don’t always have that so when they fire up a computer that has been parked for while the updates keep chewing and chewing using up a large portion of the resources. We have people here that don’t have an internet connection and come into town every few weeks so you can see what happens when they fire it up. I can see why Microsoft did that after running into computers that haven’t been updated for months but being able to stop the automatic updates should still be an option. Maybe with big reminder popups saying “You’re sticking your neck out and sooner or later somebody WILL chop your head off.”
    Bit of humor here. lol.
    I was sitting in a restaurant having lunch and could hear this guy cursing quietly at his laptop.
    This went on for the whole time I was eating and as I was just finishing my coffee this guy lets out a blood curdling scream and lifts his laptop over his head and fires it into a trash can. I was laughing so hard I could hardly breath. This guy was so mad he was spitting sparks.
    When I could finally talk I asked him, “Windows ten?” He said yes followed by a string of profanities saying he was going to buy a new laptop.
    I fished out his laptop and to my surprise it was still in one piece so I asked him if I could install a different OS on it and he said it’s junk anyway.
    As luck would have it I had a flash drive with Linux Mint on it in my truck. So I installed it and put basic operating instructions in a folder on the desktop.
    It’s been a while now and that guy still stops in at the restaurant when he’s passing through. I ran into him a couple times and he is still using the same laptop and says he loves it.
    He says “I just turn it on and it works the same every time, Can’t beat that.”
    So what I’m getting at is here is an average guy with limited computer skills (Like most of us.) getting along just fine with an operating system. So it can be done Microsoft.

  24. I sent this to them via Win10 Feedback with the subject “Leo Notenboom is speaking to you” and in the body of the feedback I stated, “and so are 10’s of thousands of other IT professionals, like myself”. I hope this gets someone’s attention.

  25. Guess Microsoft didn’t learn from the Xbox One launch debacle 5 years ago when droves of gamers went with Sony PlayStation instead due to forcing hardware and functionality features down our throats gamers didn’t want.

  26. “Updates to Windows … can’t be trusted, and yet they’re forced on us.” There, I fixed it for you, Leo, by deleting a word. Says the geezer who primarily still uses XP and Windows 7 – and Windows 10 only when I’m forced to (e.g., at work where the sys admins have been forced to drink the MS Kool-Aid). And the free versions of Red Hat, SUSE, CentOS, and Ubuntu are pretty nifty. Try ‘em.

  27. Thanks for the great article. I have been a Windows user since version 3.1. I progressed to 3.11wfw, Win98SE, XP, Vista (OK, wife’s laptop), and finally to Windows 7-64Pro, which has been my main OS since April 2011 when I built my first PC. I really like Win7 and am not an early adopter of new versions of the Windows OS and waited for the first Service Pack. Since the GWX debacle, I have maintained the Win7 machines (the homebuilt and a laptop) without many direct updating problems. The one exception was when an update broke my Intel Bluetooth on the laptop. That said, the aggravation of conducting research of updates, limiting minimally documented telemetry and snooping by accepting only security updates via the Update Catalog and monitoring the Windows blogosphere has made me say no to Windows 10. I bought, built and paid for my PC, I do not want to let go of the reliability of Windows 7 for features I do not and will not need. I want a reliable DESKTOP OS, on my desktop PC, not a mobile-derived, cloud-enabled OS over which I have no control. Until the intro of GWX and Windows 10, I had not had problems using Windows updates from 3.1 through 7.

    I have already moved to an iPad for routine travel, while my wife has been a Linux user since late 2010 when her Visa laptop install stopped working. To test her laptop hardware I booted a Linux live distro on CD I had read about and found the hardware was good. She has been an Ubuntu and now Mint Mate user for over 8 years. Updating is a breeze and like the comments about Chromebooks has been totally reliable for a non-techie user. I am building a new desktop. It will be Mint Cinnamon. I will keep the Win7 Pro desktop for the single program that requires Windows and gaming that does not have Linux support. For me, the handwriting is on the wall. MS cares not for the individual or home customer who absolutely, positively has to be able to use the PC when they need it. I do not want to be interrupted or have to wait while Windows 10 decides to install updates, especially a feature update, and the chance is good that it may fail.

    MS, give me a LTS (long term service) version like Linux, or even better, a Windows 10 Privacy Edition LTSB for individual use, with user control of updates, no snooping, and not resetting my preferences with each update/upgrade and I would gladly pay for it.

  28. Backups are fine and I have done them for years on a regular basis.
    BUT — and there is a large BUT. I did a few days ago a total system backup and it took about 4 hours and all went fine. Used
    EASEUSTODO. All went fine, no hiccups, no problems.

    But then apparently Microsoft downloaded an “update” which on the Home edition of MSOffice cannot be manually stopped apparently and next morning of this week my computer was like a brick. Power was there, but nothing else. no desktop.
    Repairs did not work, nothing worked ( and I do not consider myself a total dummy having worked for IBM for 27 years).

    When THAT happens, a backup does nothing for me or you. Even trying to start Windows 10 with a thumb drive and start up or windows 10 on it, would do nothing. Finally, in desperation, I got out my purchased copy of Win10 and inserted that thumb drive. It would not even recognize or install Win10 fresh, whether keeping all documents or even install on Win10. Nothing has worked .

    • First, given your 27 years at IBM, I apologize beforehand if my solution has already occurred to you.
      Is this a desktop computer? If so, and you have access to a second computer: to retrieve your data, open up the cabinet(!), unplug the SATA cable hooked up to the hard drive, and attach an mSATA cable to the hard drive. The cable plugs into a USB adapter. The bricked computer will (hopefully) look like an external hard drive to the other computer, and you will be able to see the contents of the drive and retrieve your data. This might work with some laptops, as well.
      (I got data off an XP with a bad video card and a tendency to crash almost immediately on booting up, this way.)

    • You should be able to boot from the rescue disk (USB or CD) no matter how damaged the system HDD is. I’d try burning another rescue disk as that might be defective. There’s also a very slight chance of a corrupted BIOS or UEFI, or a hardware problem. Those would be unrelated to the update but coincidences do happen.

  29. Fully agree. MS overstepped the boundary by forcing Windows 10 and killing support for previous versions ahead of schedule in an attempt to meet their 2 Billion users. Then taking the ability of users to choose whether they wanted MS updates and no way to turn them off. Forcing repeated updates which keep consuming resources, esp on older computers. Each update takes forever to download and then install. Default settings which I had shut off get turned back on. Programs that were working fine stop working or responding. And the list of problems goes on. My wife got fed up with MS Win 10 and threatened to smash her laptop and buy a Mac. So I wiped MS OS and installed Linux Ubuntu OS on her Dell Laptop. It has worked fine since then. She has not had any problems with accessing her online programs and courses. I have a Dell Laptop as well and am seriously considering doing the same. Wipe MS OS and install Linux. I have an old Dell desktop that had Windows Vista OS. I wiped it and loaded Linux Mint OS on it. The old comput has been working fine ever since. It is great for surfing the net and checking emails, banking etc. It only has about 80GB hard drive and 4GB of memory. But it works just fine for online tasks and I use a flash drive to save any info I want to download. So, like many who have commented, Linux OS, in my opinion, is a far more superior and stable OS than MS Windows. Thank you Leo for you article. MS and Bill Gates have become Dictators and taken control of consumers computers running Windows 10. They don’t consider the many computer users who still don’t have super high speed internet service. Many who still only have dial up if they have any service at all. Time for MS to wake up and smell the roses. It is just a matter of time until they are replaced by a much better and reliable system. For now Linux seems to be the best alternative option for many.

    • You can say that Microsoft overstepped their boundaries, but they did offer a free upgrade to Windows 7 & 8 users before stopping support for those systems. And Windows 7 is still receiving security updates until January 14, 2020 and Windows 8.1, January 10, 2023.

      In some ways, what MS is doing with Windows 10 is an improvement. Free upgrades for the life of the machine is pretty good.

      Where I believe the went wrong is in not allowing Home version users to defer upgrades until they’ve been well tested in the field, and of course not fully testing their systems.

  30. What do people need an Operating System (“OS”) for?
    The answer is:
    (1) using apps (yes, I know, horrid word, but stay with me here), either on the machine or in the cloud
    (2) saving work on the device or in the cloud
    (3) interfacing with peripherals (eg: printer)
    An OS can and should be a completely transparent method of using the apps you need and storing and printing your stuff. It should “just work”.
    That is why most people now do most of their private (and a lot of their work) computing on Android, iOS, and Chrome. They don’t give their OS a single thought because it’s transparent and it just works.
    People who use Windows 10 discover that their OS intrudes into their life.
    Linux doesn’t, and it doesn’t ask you to buy expensive hardware like Apple does, or be tied to an internet connection like a Chromebook.
    Why doesn’t everyone use Linux?
    Because there is always an app you use which you can’t run on Linux. Always.
    I just installed a PC navigation system on our boat. I had to use Windows (7, not 10) because my principal nav system is Coastal Explorer which will not run on Linux.
    But after I’d done the installation I paused and thought again.
    I’m going to start again, with Linux.
    Because if there’s an app which won’t run on Linux there’s usually an alternative which does.
    So on our boat it’s Bye Bye to Coastal Explorer, been nice to know ya. And Hello to OpenCPN, glad to make your acquaintance.
    Going to be the same at home on my laptop. An app doesn’t work on Linux? Bye Bye app.
    6 months from now there won’t be a single Microsoft device in our family. Not one.

    • Right on. Certainly for anyone without fast unlimited data Linux is the only choice. One only uses data when updating from the repo. Even then the updates can be saved and moved about to a backup drive or laptop which I did until my mobile provider of my 5 gigs started 5 unlimited single hours per month. Of course as in any system the browser must be watched and few other online apps like Spotify or a video downloader but nothing behind ones back. Anything you want is free with no malware including the whole Libre Office suite. Goodby antivirus and anti malware. Many MS users who live a good life ascend to Linux even before death. At 83 I’m sure the peace of mind is extending my stay.

  31. I have to disagree with most of what has been said so far. I have been using Windows since 3.1 at least. Yes it has had its problems but I suspect many of them came from conflicts with other software. How can it be assumed that because an update is applied and something breaks that it is Microsoft at fault? Given the number of computer manufacturers (who put some of their own software on the machines), the number of other software programs on machines, the peripherals that can be attached (all with their own software), it is absolutely amazing that Windows keeps working mostly well. Correlation in time between Windows updates and breakdowns is not cause and effect. For updates to happen flawlessly Microsoft would have to be able to test ALL possible configurations which I calculate to be close to infinite and then what might work with one configuration might break another. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place. With the advent of Google (Chrome specifically) I suspect breakdowns started happening more often. Microsoft probably started forcing updates because so many users would not apply them as they should and they saw this as a solution. Yes they have to cooperate more with big corporations (if they want their business) because these entities all have their own software that needs to cooperate with Windows and since much of that software is only applicable to their business it is crucial that it works with other software. When I compare my PC to my smartphone (which is just a smaller computer) I am exceedingly happy with my Windows PC and wish that my phone worked as well.

  32. Leo, I want to buy your book on backing-up, but can’t find anything to make it happen. I’m just finishing building a new computer, and haven’t installed the OS, and want to make an image file of the initial installation (before anything else is added).

    I quit writing code about 10 years ago, and have fallen too far behind to catch up, but I can still build a mean PC!

    I like your style and it fits right in with my technical abilities. So … how can I buy your book?

    Gord Clark – 86
    Rockburn, Qué.

  33. Leo, first of all, thanks for a very nice informative site, As a tech writer, I can see the work put into it.
    I can’t say I totally agree with everything you said in this article but I understand where you are coming from and certainly, some of it is very valid. I do agree with holding up on some feature updates that might affect a system but I think the biggest omission in the article is the total number of updates that have fixed a problem as compared to the ones that have created a problem.
    I believe as you stated, make constant backups, and take most or every upgrade. I repair computers for a living and while the total number I deal with, pales in comparison of the number out there I do not see a lot of bad problems from updates, normally, a printer or video driver. I also perform a lot of software tests and the October update did affect the Opera Neon browser but believe that in the long run, most people are satisfied. We know we are only going to hear from the MS haters and of course the people that have had issues.
    I wanted to write this to balance out the fact that you are going to hear mostly from the complainers. I run 4 Win 10 systems with one fast-tracked, one slow, with each of those on insider editions, one with only normal updates and one with updates held as long as possible. Having done that for a few years, here is what I believe; most users do not experience a serious problem, many users experience what they perceive as a problem, (features moved, or ways to access them changed) and these users (with little or no working knowledge) are going to complain because mostly they were happy with the way things were. Of course, there are some truly affected by an update and our job is to help educate them to keep a good working backup available at all times and immediately do a recovery or even better a restore if a new update messes up your system. For those that only need or prefer a Chrome, Linux or Amazon tablet should do exactly that but should not be the people complaining about an MS system.

  34. Sorry, I’m shouting here. FOR GOD’S SAKE LEO, TELL THEM HOW TO GO INTO SERVICES.MSC AND DISABLE WINDOWS UPDATE, IT’S NOT DIFFICULT! They are only forced upon you if you don’t know your way around the operating system. And it’s also very easy to set aside a day when you won’t be using the computer, to enable the Updates service again and do the whole lot in one go. Then disable. Yes you may miss an important ‘automatic’ security update, but as Leo says in the article, stability is more important than security. Not to mention a faster pc which isn’t constantly searching and downloading updates.

  35. Let’s not call people who complain about Windows 10 “Microsoft haters”. Probably all the people who do complain are actually Windows users, have been for decades, and would like to continue with Windows. And they are not complaining about bugs (all software has bugs). They are complaining about MS changing the rules of the game – the rules that MS originally created and the rules that attracted most people to MS, as opposed to MAC. Even people who get lucky and don’t have significant problems are frustrated by MS’s one-sided approach to Windows 10. The complaints are legitimate: (1) With Windows 10 MS has taken control over your computer and does what it wants with it. (2) Even though you paid for the OS, it no longer belongs to you, its Microsoft’s property and they can (and do) whatever they want, such as remove applications or obsolesce applications. (3) It’s evident that MS has short cut its development processes and pushed testing on to the user base. Sorry (Jim above), but the MS insider testing is not a rigorous engineering process. It’s a “let’s hope some techie gets lucky and finds a bug and decides to report it” process. (4) Arrogance. With Windows 10, MS has released updates with known and serious bugs. For the 1809 update (according to stories on the internet) MS knew about the file deletion problem, but released the update anyway. (5) The forced updates are not for critical “security” reasons. Most updates are forced feature changes, unnecessary and capricious.

    Yes, I get annoyed when the next morning I find my menus have changed and my printer doesn’t work. If you are a techie maybe that gives you joy. But if you use a computer as a tool to get a job done you don’t have time to stop and troubleshoot problems after every update.
    So, without the complaints there is no chance of Microsoft doing better.

    P.S. Leo, have you noticed that after every article on Windows 10 the number of posts increases?

    • I’m certainly not referring to everyone who has a problem as a “hater”. But trust me, true haters are out there. Breeze through these comments and I’m certainly you’ll identify a few that cross that threshold. And that’s not including those who vent at and to me in email.

      You you mean “the number of comments increases?” — That depends on the topic of the article. 🙂

  36. Thank you for this article, Leo. I agree that Microsoft has to do better with updates. I wasn’t a victim of the Windows 10 update deleting files – I run Windows 8.1. But the first week of September, I installed an update (without backing up first) and right away noticed that the Search function was essentially ruined. This is the Windows key – F search which shows all the documents, jpgs and videos on my computer that match. I use it daily, and extensively. I could still specify a search, BUT opening and closing just one of the results closed down the whole Search and deleted the little purple Search icon in the taskbar.

    The Windows update I installed was a “rollup;” probably a feature update as you mention. I tried to uninstall it, but found it consisted of a number of individual KBs, and a half-dozen or so could not be uninstalled, and I could only assume my computer was in a corrupted state.

    I did have a 2-day old full Macrium image, and I restored it. It still took some fiddling to get things back the way they were, but I did. But I will never again install any updates without backing up first.

  37. If I may mention briefly the competition so to speak Ask Bob recently wrote a good article called “warning_dont_click_this_button” on not using the check for updates link of the windows update function. He basically says that when one uses the check for updates link it installs un-fully tested updates including the latest big fall update that can crash a computer. But when one leave the automatic update function on and lets windows update naturally that only lets in updates that have been fully tested and ready to use. There is some overlap between Ask Bob’s article and this one in that he says that users have become unknowing beta update testers by clicking on the check for updates link. By the way Ask Bob says that this is true because there is a difference between letting windows update automatically vs. using the check for updates link. But he still advocates receiving updates and to perform backups.

  38. This is what I have been saying for a long time. It’s so frustrating to constantly be on the lookout for updates and to stop them from wrecking my machine. I am simply too busy and just don’t have the time to restore my system from image backups every time microsoft sends an update and slows down my new intel i5 7th Gen PC.

  39. Good article, which I’ve been saying for some time. But I suspect the number of people affected by ruinous updates is much higher than your illustrative stats. I look after two W10 laptops in my family. The big April update ruined one of them irretrievably and could only be fixed by a complete re-install. The second lost its ability to run a Bluetooth Mouse after a minor update, and it took a lot of steps before I re-instated it. So my experience of the Windows Update problem is 100%. Happily, I can do stuff, but most can’t. People who are not tech savvy, or can’t afford the time or money to obtain a fix, will simply ditch their kit for something new or (worryingly for MS) convert to Apple. Microsoft is shooting itself in the foot.

  40. I don’t agree with this: “allow all editions of Windows to defer any and all updates indefinitely. ”

    Which is the greater source of problems? Occasional Windows Update bugs OR bus/virus exposure, etc. caused because people seldom or never update their system?

    Windows is a system designed for the average computer user. Windows 10 is “dumbed down” from earlier Windows versions. The average computer user is not going to be diligent about updating on a timely basis, if at all. That’s just a fact.

    Yes, people (I can’t say how many, but I doubt it is many) lost data, but how many people lost data due to other issues including compromised passwords and disk failure, or negligent deletion (by mistake)?

  41. I have been using a PC with Microsoft OS for about 30 years. I am now greatly dissatisfied and mad at Microsoft for repeatedly destroying my computer with their Windows 10 forced updates in addition to all of the bloatware and personal data collection. GEEK Squad confirmed that my computer was for all intents and purposed destroyed by MS update.

    Even when I do not allow updates, the PC grinds to a near halt after startup trying to update. This PC is only about 3 years old. They destroyed one PC, scanner, multiple printers and disabled others and have cost me innumerable hours, frustration and unhappiness.

    I can not believe that they can get away with such a defective product that has cost me many, many hours and money. How the hell can they get away with this? The computers are no longer optional for modern life. How can they get away with it? We should not allow this.

  42. Good article and some seriously helpful comments.
    There are so many things that Microsoft could do better with their OS. I’ve always been a Microsoft user, back to using the MS-DOS OS on the original Home Computer – Packard Bell Commodore!
    I agree with most of the comments here, but need to add this:
    1. Agreeing with Leo – Give us back control – including control of WHEN to DOWNLOAD updates (not just when to install). Those of us that are on metered connections or data limits need this to save on our data for the rest of the month.
    2. Give us back the Homegroup….I don’t want to share files from the cloud, and/or use a freaking USB drive. Come on already, not all of us have unlimited data.
    3. Don’t worry about adding more cloud options or “live streaming” options, those are just for people that have unlimited data.
    4. Keep it simple and understandable to us end users who know ‘just enough to be dangerous’. 🙂
    I still like version 8.1, too, and have kept it on my laptop. Both my desktops have Win10. I was so excited that the anniversary edition was suppose to be for helping creativity. But, sadly, it took away more than it offered.

    • You don’t need to use the cloud just because Homegroup is gone. Machine-to-machine networking (which is all that Homegroup used, and made easier) still exists. I use it every day.

      • Leo, thanks for your reply. I can’t figure out the machine to machine networking. For some reason…on my new PC (Windows 10), I cannot see any of my shared networks. I’m connecting over wifi via a satellite modem. I can only see my other computers on my Win 8.1 laptop. I had no problem with Homegroup. I have shared all that I can, following every possible help topic there is….no luck. If you have a step-by-step instruction page, I would be glad to take a look. Thanks.

        • Networking is so complicated. It’s impossible to give step by step instructions as each configuration is so different. See this article for more information.
          Networking Sucks

          I’ve found it easier to use TeamViewer to share files between computers as it’s much easier and even works when I’m traveling with my laptops. It’s an expensive program if you use it professionally, but free and 100% unlimited for non-commercial use.

  43. I’ve read the article, and most of the comments. I’m impressed with many comments, and the article is spot on.

    My answer to Windows, was to switch to Linux. I’ve never looked back. I downloaded the developer preview of Win 8 when it came out. I knew immediately that I was never going to switch to 8. Then 8.1 (or something) came out, and finally Win 10. I still keep maintaining a few Win 7 computers for friends, but I’m astonished at how much I’m forgetting about Windows. I do maintain a Win 7 for a few sMarguerite Reebpecialized things, but 99% of what I do is on Linux. It just works–without fail. Microsoft managed to mess up the Marguerite Reebother Win 7 machines I had, one by one. If I didn’t follow their ‘invitation’ to get Win 10, they found a way to disable Win 7. I do not forgive them.

    The article mentions goals, or principles, or philosophy that Microsoft should follow. Those principles are the ones that the Linux community adopted from the beginning. Linux treats the computer user with respect.

    Microsoft wants to be the centre of IoT, and the OS for automobiles. I’ll be ensuring that the OS is NOT Microsoft, if I ever buy a new car. I can’t afford senseless towing charges.

  44. In the article & comments, I don’t really see enough people mentioning/focusing on what, to me, is a really significant problem with the forced upgrade process – the fact that Microsoft refuses to take into account that plenty of us have *real life stuff* that is harmed by this implementation.

    *I’ve been called away urgently from my desk to respond to an emergency, only to return and find that Windows rebooted because I wasn’t there *not* to tell it to do so, and my unsaved work has been lost (local work as well as work across SSH connections).
    *I have literally been at work a few hours before a hurricane was going to hit, and told by my boss that we had to shut down computers *now* along with a mandatory UPS shutoff… but oh, hey, now Windows is installing an update, and I can’t do anything but wait, even though the electric company is about to cut the power grid.
    *I’ve had to get out the door in a hurry for other reasons (e.g. get to a meeting in the next city over), and I hit “Shutdown” on my laptop, but there was apparently an update pending and now I’m stuck waiting for it to finish.
    *I’ve sometimes let Windows do an update when I shut it down – but then, when I come in for work the next day, my boss needs a file from me right away, but I can’t give it to him because now Windows wants another 10-15 minutes to finish configuring its update.
    *I multiboot multiple OSes (Win and Linux distros), and sometimes need to switch OSes during the day. But nope, it’s time for a Windows update, so now my our client is mad because I can’t answer his question because I can’t get to Linux to get him an answer.

    A computer is a tool or appliance, not unlike a stove. Imagine having a stove that randomly turned itself off and then on again while you were baking something, because its manufacturer had deemed that its need to always have the most up-to-date firmware was more important than the cake you were trying to bake. Imagine if you were done cooking a dish for the dinner party you were going to, and trying to leave your house to get there on time, but your stove insisted on remaining on for another 15-20 minutes to do updates, and so you were stuck there waiting for it for safety reasons. Imagine turning on your stove to cook dinner for your guests, but it wouldn’t let you cook anything on it for 15 minutes because it was finishing its update process. How long would you tolerate having a stove like that?

    If I want my computer on, it should come on promptly.
    While my computer is on, it should remain on; it should not randomly reboot without my explicit permission.
    If I want my computer off, it should turn off promptly.

    • “If I want my computer on, it should come on promptly.
      While my computer is on, it should remain on; it should not randomly reboot without my explicit permission.
      If I want my computer off, it should turn off promptly.”

      Sounds exactly like Linux…

    • PhoenixM, your real-world issues are all legitimate. Unfortunately, pretty soon your stove, your refrigerator, your car, and most other appliances will soon behave like Windows 10. New TVs already do that. In your comment you mention your boss. Part of the problem imposed on you is instigated by your boss and company. If bosses and companies did not blindly adopt Window 10 because it was “free”, things might have been different. If the alleged concern was “security” updates, there shouldn’t have been any, at least not until all Windows 7 support completely ends. But that’s not going to happen because (apparently) MS is instituting a monthly service fee to keep Windows 7 updates flowing.

      On another note: MS re-released the “fix” to the 1809 Update. Already there are reports of new bugs (in the re-release).

  45. A company cannot support a product that has had random updates applied. I worked in many support jobs. Our first question was “Are all the updates installed?”. If not, call me back when they are. The alternative is company bankruptcy. You spend hours analyzing a problem that was already fixed by an update six months ago.

    I agree that updates should not be forced. Until you want support.

Leave a reply: